With Himalayan Travellers, I would like (and it is my dream) to build an ETHICAL company.
Of course in a company dedicated to expeditions, the ethics start with the manner in which you climb a mountain.
I am a Alpinist with roots in the Alps. I learned to climb in the seventies, with a rock culture of « free climbing ».
The way in which I climb mountains is important to me, as an alpinist but also as a mountain guide — maybe even more so than reaching the summit itself.
In the Himalaya…
I believe that the environment of the commercial expeditions on Everest, Ama Dablam, Island Peak, and all the 8000ers, and more and more so on the 7000m peaks, is definitely not good for an alpinist.
On these summits, a commercial expedition is there to make a profit, as much profit as possible. They do this by selling services and attracting as many clients as possible, even if they are not mature mountaineers with suitable experience for the proposed climbs.
For me, as a alpinist, when I go on an expedition and spend my money, I want to have a deep experience in the mountains and at high altitude. I need to be involved as much as possible myself, within my own abilities and close to the natural environment.
In a commercial environment, an alpinist is an endangered species.
It’s a poisonous atmosphere.
You cannot climb alpine-style on Ama Dablam… And,…
Remember what happened with Uli & Simone on Everest. And this was not fiction in a bad series B-movie; this was sadly the reality.
To be more specific…
The more comfort you have at Base Camp (heater, internet, satellite phone), the more you are like « at home » and not in the Himalaya. And the less you are in contact with the reality of this wonderful mountain environment.
If you climb on fixed ropes, you will never feel truly engaged in your climb. You will never be in the reality of a climb with all its components (technique, psyche, mental and psychological). If you’re on a fixed line from base camp to summit, you are not an alpinist.
As a mountain guide in the Himalaya, I try to climb mostly with a main rope only and in a small party with my companions, mostly in a groupe (with the responsability off the other parties). This is a real pleasure.
If you use oxygen, it’s even more stupid.
You kill the main reason for being there, because you are so high in the Himalaya and on an expedition. You remove all the difficulties of climbing in a hypoxic atmosphere.
If I am not able to go to a summit without oxygen… I simply don’t go; this mountain is too high for me !
This is why we will never, at Himalayan Travellers, organise any expedition to Everest, Ama Dablam or Island Peak.
Other friends and guides from other agencies will do that much better than us!
On the small 8000m peaks, maybe we will try to go without oxygen if we are really able to do so.
And of course, for the 7000m peaks, it’s more interesting to guide expeditions without fixed ropes (or with as few as possible).
And overall, if we do use fixed ropes, we will take them OUT!
I believe that the future of the expedition in Nepal is not this caricature of climbing, paying no respect to the mountain or to the mountaineers.
But to be an Ethical company we also need
- to be Eco-minded.
- We need to build transparency.
- And encourage Nepali women to join us in our climbing team.
Never stop on the top…